Peruvians take the law into their own hands: “Catch a thief” campaign goes viral
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Peruvians take the law into their own hands: “Catch a thief” campaign goes viral

Dozens of vigilant-style crime stopping pages have popped up on Facebook and Twitter in Peru.

In a controversial new campaign “chapa tu choro” (catch a thief), the pages encourage Peruvians to act where the police fails, despite Peru’s penal code ruling up to four years in prison for inflicting bodily harm on individuals, and up to 25 years for causing death.

“The creation of these pages demonstrate a lack of knowledge and disdain by the population. They are inciting people to commit criminal acts. The sanctions can be steep.” Peruvian penal lawyer Romy Chang told BBC Mundo.

Violent vigilantes

With titles such as “catch your chief and leave them paraplegic” the pages are openly violent.

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Cecilia García, creator of “Chapa tu choro Perú” explains how her page came about.

“A neighbor found a man breaking into her house and took him to the police station, but the police freed him (…) So from then on we decided not to take criminals to the police. We put up flyers in neighborhoods, warning criminals that we would punish them. We put the notices on social media, and it became viral without me even thinking about it.”

Cecilia assured Peruvian daily La Republica that she has no political links or motives for her campaign, despite being pictured with Keiko Fujimori supporters.

Keiko is daughter of Peru’s ex-President Alberto Fujimori, charged with committing countless human rights abuses during his term.

Cops and robbers

Yet the campaign continues to gain support across Peru.

A recent survey by Peruvian pollsters Datum has found that 53 percent of Peruvians approve of the controversial vigilante campaign.

Johnny Castillo Sandoval, caught why trying to shoplift, has appeared in a recent video from Panamericana TV after he narrowly faced a beating from him captors prior to being rescued by the police.

For now at least, Peruvians appear content to take the law into their own hands, as a distrust and disapproval in the country’s police force fuels the crime-stopping campaign.

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